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Checking our privilege
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[The] data continues [to show] a three year trend in which transgender women, LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color, and transgender people of color experienced a greater risk of homicide than other LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. These statistics demonstrate that the most marginalized LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities experience higher rates of severe violence. These same communities experience higher rates of homelessness, poverty, and job discrimination which can increase their risk of violence.

Transmisogyny is a term that was coined by Julia Serano in Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. It describes the intersectional oppression of cissexism/transphobia and misogyny. As with other intersectional issues, there are forms of oppression unique to trans women that are suffered neither by cisgender (cis) women, nor by trans men, and the results of this can be deadly.[2]

Trans panic[edit]

Trans panic is used as a defense by some assailants of trans women. The defendant states that he was meeting a woman for sex, but upon discovering at the crucial moment that the woman is trans, such is his shock and outrage that he could not help but attack her. The object is to gain the sympathy of any jurors who may harbor similar prejudices, or to reduce a potential conviction of murder to the less heavily punished crime of manslaughter. This is a desperate move, however, and the defense of trans panic (along with the similar gay panic) is inadmissible in many jurisdictions (of course, this doesn't stop people from buying into it).

The "trans panic" defense was used in the murder case of trans women Gwen Araujo[3] and Angie Zapata.[4]

Assumption of male privilege[edit]

When trans women try to assume leadership roles or assert themselves as equals, people will falsely attribute this to male socialized behavior.[5] When the same actions are taken by cisgender women male socialization is rarely if ever assumed.

While reactions to social privilege can shape a person's mentality, and it is often described as being "held" by a person, social privilege is actually bestowed upon a person by a society; a patriarchal society bestows privilege on cisgender men over others, which then guides the worldview of all cultural participants.[6] However, because society does not treat trans women (even ones that do not see the need to, do not want to, or have not yet "transitioned" to appear more like a coded-feminine cisgender woman) as it would treat a cisgender man, trans women cannot be said to benefit from male privilege, regardless of how trans-exclusionary radical feminists feel about the matter.[7][8]

Hypersexualization and desexualization[edit]

This documented effect that usually targets cis women of color targets transgender women as well, though the effects are worse for trans women of color than white trans women.[9] Hypersexualization and desexualization occurs when cisgender people view transgender women as both objects of sexual fetish and unfuckable abominations in terms of normal relationships, often at the same time. This is also combined with the false concept of "autogynephilia" further polices trans women's sexuality and sexual expression. Yet another example of this is doctors prescribing very high levels of testosterone blockers to reduce levels well below what a cisgender woman would have hampering normal sex drive for transgender women. This can contribute to the sexual assault and rape of transgender women.[10]

Media representation[edit]

Transgender women are often depicted as either dead bodies, sex workers, drag queens or tragic figures intended to be the objects of pity or scorn.[11] They are often played by cisgender men in the media. One of the major sources of exposure to trans women in the media,The Jerry Springer Show, trash TV known for sensationalism, depicts trans women in an unflattering light as deceiving straight men and as objects of ridicule when a man’s cisgender girlfriend finds out her boyfriend cheated on her with a trans woman.

Gender presentation[edit]

Transgender women who present feminine are sometimes accused of enforcing patriarchal appearance standards in women, while trans women who present butch are accused of being men pretending to be women.[12] This kind of horrible catch-22 is unique to trans women.

Rape culture[edit]

Transgender women (particularly transgender women of color) are at very high risk for being raped or sexually assaulted (over half of all trans women have experienced some kind of sexual violence)[13] while most of society assumes they are rapists by default. This assumption (made popular by trans exclusionary radical feminism) is used to deny transgender women access to women's services such as rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. It's also of note that said radical feminists have accused nearly every notable trans woman activist of some kind of sexual misconduct. Another horrible catch-22.

Mental health[edit]

Transgender women are assumed to be mentally ill by many cisgender people.[14] Transgender women who happen to be actually mentally ill are often denied transgender related medical care due to said illness, often aggravating it.[15] Being transgender was at one time considered a mental disorder (formerly known as "gender identity disorder" in the DSM-IV, before being renamed "gender dysphoria" in the DSM-V) and you were unable to get treatment if you had certain *other* mental disorders.


The assumption that trans women and men face the same experience ignores the intersection of trans and gender. News articles, for example, that lump together statistics and stories of violence against trans women and trans men gloss over the fact that the lion's share of the violence and sexual assault occurs to transgender women (particularly transgender women of color).[16] Calling everything "transphobia" erases the gender-specific reality of the situation.

Transmisogyny and white supremacy[edit]

It's important to note that transmisogyny against trans women of color becomes even more deadly. The intersection of transmisogyny and racism, specifically anti-blackness, is called transmisogynoir (noir meaning "black" in French).[17] This is the intersection of three deadly oppressive forces (racism, misogyny and transphobia). Also important to note is the fact that the cisgender binary of gender (only male and female and that's assigned at birth and fixed) is a western concept not shared by many cultures around the world.[18][19]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. A report from the NCAVP: Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-affected hate violence in 2013
  2. A Review of Transmisogyny Embodied: Cathy Brennan
  3. "Shelley, Christopher A. (2008-08-02). Transpeople: repudiation, trauma, healing. University of Toronto Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-8020-9539-8. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  4. Transgender murder, hate crime conviction a first
  5. ""I sought acceptance in one lesbian community that had a bad experience with a transsexual lesbian five or six years prior to my being there. According to women who were there, she had attempted a power play to take over this huge lesbian organization in the city, and the reaction was very strong, very vocal. The reaction was very much, 'Well that's a man for you!' Then I came along, and they were like 'LOOK-OUT, another one!' People wouldn't know I was a transsexual and then they'd find out and they'd be like 'Oh, I knew all along: it was male energy, I felt that!' It was not very good acceptance." – Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw, pp. 42 - 43.
  8. A Series of Questions — This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.
  9. Reports from 1998 to the present on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence, NCAVP
  10. Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
  12. Drew Cordes (August, 2012). "Power, the Male Gaze, & the Catch-22 of Trans Gender Presentation". The Bilerico Project. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  19. LUGONES, M. (2007), Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. Hypatia, 22: 186–219. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2007.tb01156.x